Latest news

Planning round-up 9 July

Published: Thursday, 9th July 2015

Forth Bridge awarded Heritage Site status. CPRE makes case for rural exemption to safeguard affordable housing. Cheshire East may need to resubmit amended local plan. And more stories...

Forth Bridge awarded Heritage Site status

Scotland’s iconic Forth Bridge has become the sixth Scottish landmark to be awarded Unesco World Heritage Site status.

The decision was announced at a meeting in the German city of Bonn after the UN’s cultural committee spent more than a year considering its nomination.

The committee described the construction as “innovative in style, materials and scale” and an important milestone in bridge design.

The distinctive red bridge has carried trains over the Forth since 1890. Scotland’s other World Heritage Sites are New Lanark, St Kilda, the Old and New Towns in Edinburgh, Neolithic Orkney and the Antonine Wall.

View more information

CPRE makes case for rural exemption to safeguard affordable housing

The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) has urged ministers to treat rural areas as a special case in order to protect and provide affordable housing, particularly in the light of the latest proposals to extend the Right to Buy regime.

CPRE has just published a paper which warns that this is likely to have highly damaging consequences for rural communities faced with disproportionately high house prices and ageing populations, unless rural exemptions can be secured.

The paper argues that local authorities in rural areas should be allowed to set their own thresholds for affordable housing.

The paper also argues that a standard and more inclusive definition of ‘rural community’ should underpin new initiatives to boost affordable housing. It recommends a standard definition identifying communities of fewer than 10,000 in rural local authorities

Luke Burroughs, policy and research adviser at CPRE said: “rural areas must be considered a special case – starting with an exemption from the proposed extension to Right to Buy. The last thing we can afford to do is eat into our meagre supply of affordable homes.”

View the press release

Cheshire East may need to resubmit amended local plan

The planning inspector who been examining Cheshire East Council’s draft local plan has warned the planning authority it may have to withdraw the strategy and resubmit it, if work on amendments to overall housing and employment land provision result in significant changes to the original plan.

He has told the local authority: “Consultation on a significantly amended overall housing and employment land provision figure, along with a set of new or amended sites, may constitute the type of substantial amendment which might suggest that the submitted plan should be withdrawn and resubmitted when all necessary community engagement and public consultation has been completed.”

Last November the inspector halted examination of the plan after concluding it had not dealt adequately with either housing assessment and provision or green belt issues.

View more information

Castleford stadium scheme makes waves

Proposals for a new 10,000 capacity Castleford Tigers stadium are closer to climbing off the drawing board now Communities Secretary Greg Clark has signalled he will not be “calling in” the plan which also includes a 50-acre country park, shops and restaurants proposed by developer the Lateral Property Group for land near Junction 32 of the M62 at Glasshoughton.

The £135m scheme for the new rugby league stadium and other elements had been approved by Wakefield Council earlier this year. The project is known as the Five Towns Park.

View more information

Help for small builders

Small builders are set to benefit from a £100m cash boost thanks to an initiative known as the Housing Growth Partnership, launched this week.

Under this scheme small firms will receive financial support. The partnership will also establish a network of builders, including experienced developers, who will act as mentors and advisers to those looking to expand and grow their businesses.

The government has matched a £50m investment from Lloyds Banking Group to create the £100m Housing Growth Partnership, which will be used to help smaller builders invest in new projects and develop their businesses, allowing them to recruit and train skilled workers and become more competitive in their local area.

View the press release

Energy projects round-up

  • The National Trust has announced it will invest a record-breaking £30m, in renewable energy to heat and power more of its historic sites. The move follows the successful completion of five renewable energy projects at National Trust properties, part of a £3.5m pilot launched with Good Energy in 2013. The National Trust is investing in more than 40 further projects including a 200-kilowatt lake source heating project at Blickling Estate in Norfolk, two biomass boilers at Upton House in Warwickshire and a 250-kilowatt hydro scheme at Hayeswater in Cumbria.
  • Communities Secretary Greg Clark has called in controversial proposals for a 24-megawatt solar farm on a site of special scientific interest (SSSI) at Rampisham Down approved by West Dorset District Council. Clark’s predecessor had considered intervening over the project earlier this year.
  • Meanwhile in a separate development a planning inspector has allowed an appeal against a council’s refusal of a 8.21-megawatt solar farm in East Sussex after he concluded that the benefits of the scheme, including the production of renewable energy, would ‘outweigh any harmful impacts’ on the character and appearance of the area.

Environment Agency response time performance

The Environment Agency (EA) responded to some 30,251 requests from local planning authorities and developers over planning application consultations and pre-application requests under the so-called 21-day duty regime during 2013/14.

The average (mean) number of days to provide a substantive response to all consultation requests was 16 days. This was an improvement on 2012/13 when the EA’s average (mean) response time was 17 days.

The Agency responded to 92 per cent of planning application consultations and pre-application enquiries within 21 days or such other period agreed in writing; 93 per cent for planning application consultations and 88 per cent for pre-application enquiries. This is lower than in 2012-13 when the green watchdog achieved 95 per cent.

The EA responded to 84.7 per cent of all planning application consultations and pre-application enquiries within 21 days.

View the report

London round-up

  • North east England-based social enterprise Gentoo Genie has signed a deal with the Greater London Authority to secure up to £40m of loan finance to deliver 2,000 affordable new homes over the next 10 years. Gentoo is now seeking a London developer to partner with in order to deliver these planned new homes; they would like to acquire new build properties or development land. This follows a successful pilot scheme in the north east of England where 94 families moved into their own homes.
  • London property owners The Crown Estate, Grosvenor Britain & Ireland, Shaftesbury, the Howard de Walden Estate and The Portland Estate have jointly formed a unique collaboration to promote green infrastructure in the capital, through an ecology project entitled ‘Wild West End’. The first phase of Wild West End will see The Crown Estate create a green corridor across its holdings in Regent Street and St James’s, linking Regent’s Park and St James’s Park. The plans will see the creation of over a hectare of new green space. A master plan is being drawn up to expand the scheme.
  • Amber Valley Borough Council has refused permission for a 400-home development on the edge of the Derby suburb of Allestree because of the harm posed to the setting of the nearby Grade 1 listed Kedelston Hall. Developer Catesby Estates is considering an appeal.

Legal round-up

  • Tandridge District Council in Surrey has lost a High Court challenge over whether the replacement of a group of buildings by a single building that was not materially larger than those it replaced was capable of falling within an exception in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).
  • A woman who has fought for years to block plans to redevelop a bowls club in Bexhill into sheltered flats has failed in her latest legal challenge to the granting of planning permission by Rother District Council.
  • Up to 1,000 bridleways and footpaths in England and Wales could be reinstated more than 200 years after disappearing from maps. This follows a Court of Appeal ruling that two paths near Crudwell in Wiltshire are legal rights of way.

Tideway Tunnel scoops top award

The £4.2bn Thames Tideway Tunnel (known as the capital’s ‘super sewer’) project, designed to provide essential additional capacity to London’s now antiquated Victorian sewage system, is this year’s winner of the RTPI’s Silver Jubilee Cup, the UK and Ireland’s most prestigious planning award.

View the press release

First purpose-built women’s football stadium mooted in Glasgow

Glasgow City Football Club is exploring plans to build the first purpose-built women’s football stadium in the UK. The sports facility would have a standard pitch and training facilities in Auchinairn, East Dunbartonshire.

It would be used by the Glasgow City Foundation and other community groups. Glasgow City’s Douglas Barnett said: “This will be the first purpose-built women’s football facility in the UK – promoting the sport to new generations of girls and women.”

View the press release